Unemployment work search requirements to resume in July

With vaccines now readily available and COVID-19 numbers dropping, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry is saying it will soon be time for those on unemployment to start looking for work.

Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier said the department will be restarting work search requirements for those receiving unemployment the week of July 11.

That means individuals on unemployment will need to begin certifying that they have looked for work during the previous week on July 18.

“As more Pennsylvanians become vaccinated and our case count continues to decline, workers can more safely return to the workforce,” said Acting Secretary Berrier.

“We have been working with our stakeholder groups and have determined July is the ideal time to reinstate the work search requirement. PA CareerLink locations across the state are ready to provide high quality, individualized assistance to out-of-work Pennsylvanians as more displaced workers begin the work search process.”

The requirement will apply to anyone receiving benefits through unemployment programs in Pennsylvania, including Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Recipients are also required to accept an offer of suitable work. Individuals are required to keep a log of their work search activities, which is subject to audit.

Approved work search activities include attending a job fair, searching for positions through internet job banks, using an employment agency or networking with professionals in the same field about job opportunities.

CareerLink launches a redesigned website

Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak speaks during a press conference announcing a redesigned PA CareerLink website. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is trying to make it easier for employers and job seekers to find each other.

The department launched a redesigned PA CareerLink website that focuses on accessibility and features an enhanced sourcing and application process.

“L&I is focused on training Pennsylvania workers for the new economy emerging in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. “To accomplish this, we’re modernizing and upgrading our job search and reskilling programs. We began with redesigning the PA CareerLink website to be more user friendly for users, which is important because even before the pandemic, the job search and application process has moved almost entirely online for most businesses.”

Besides employment functions, the site was designed to make other key resources more easily accessible, including links to the search pages for training, apprenticeships and internships, as well as adult education resources, the Employment, Advancement and Retention Network (EARN) and benefits through PA Compass.

These tips can help you hire and train new workers

Hiring managers know that every new hire requires training, but Human Resource Departments are not aware of programs that exist to help and will provide financial reimbursements and/ or tax credits. I realized this when I attended a job fair two months ago, and with another job fair on January 14, I am offering these best practices to be aware of.

This article summarizes some of the best practices that the local group of execs have identified and implemented.   The CFO Forum is a group of more than 40 executives who meet monthly at the Manufacturers Resource Center to address common issues and learn from each other, as well as the experts who are invited to share their expertise.  In our group, only 20% were aware of any of the following programs and credits. And some who were aware discovered that HR chose not to use the programs or apply for the credits. The programs are available for nonprofit firms as well as for-profit businesses. Small and large firms are eligible.

I have highlighted two programs that reimburse employers for training new hires (there are also programs to help with training the existing employees but that is a different topic.)

The On the Job Training  (OJT) Program provides work-based training opportunities for new hires who are either a low-income adult and/or a dislocated worker. It provides the skills needed for occupations that are listed as high priority occupations (HPO), or located within a targeted industry cluster. Targeted industries include; manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, finance, construction, and professional, scientific, and technical services.

This program is administered by Careerlink and can reimburse the employer up to 50% of the wage for each new hire and may cover up to a maximum of the first six months of employment for time spent by the employee learning the skills, processes and other requirements of the position. Jobs must be full time, benefits eligible and pay at least $13 per hour. A maximum of $12,000 per new hire is possible, but all on-the-job training situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, so reimbursement amounts can and do vary.

Over 60 positions are defined as HPO and candidates who are unemployed or under employed may qualify.  The firm, position and candidates have to be prequalified before they start. This can be easily accomplished by working with Careerlink experts in Allentown.  At least 50% of the hourly compensation will be reimbursed on a monthly basis and the process is actually a best practice for identifying and managing training of a new employee.  Using OJT as a process impresses candidates and differentiates the firm in a difficult hiring environment.

The second program financially incentivizes employers to consider job seekers who might be overlooked due to a spotty or inconsistent work history.  The Transitional Subsidized Employment (TSE) program identifies candidates and can help employers fill positions.  TSE funding provides reimbursement for 75% of the wages paid for up to a 500 hours.   The positions must be full time (at least 35 hours) and be either an HPO or located within a targeted industry cluster.  Frankly, candidates may have spotty work history, lack of work experience, participated in a food stamp or similar program or other challenges and this program is designed to encourage employers to consider hiring these candidates.   Again, Careerlink administers this program and does an excellent job to minimize the administration, recruitment and onboarding challenges.  If you are not partnering with Careerlink, I encourage you to.  Careerlink LV is very employer friendly.

As I mentioned, few employers are aware of these programs and even fewer optimize their use.   Similarly, most employers are not aware of various tax credits and other incentives that may exist.  Another best practice that we have reviewed is how to receive the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, a complex federal credit that is managed via Harrisburg.   The WOTC program is inefficient admistratively, however there are best practices that can be implemented to ease the process.   The credit ranges from several hundred dollars to more than $9,000 for the eligible new hire.

It’s complicated, but worth it.

Gary Bender is founder and CEO of The CFO Solution in Quakertown. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 215 421 8291.

CareerLink opens office at Sacred Heart Hospital

St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Sacred Heart Campus in Allentown (File photo) –

St. Luke’s University Health Network and the Workforce Board of the Lehigh Valley have unveiled the early results of a partnership, which placed a PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley satellite office in the health network’s Sacred Heart campus on North Fifth Street in Allentown.

The partners describe the office as providing a new way to deal with employment needs of people in the downtown, especially those using the hospital’s services.

“Finding a job you enjoy and can excel at can give a sense of purpose and accomplishment, but many people face barriers to employment or lack the skills or training needed to succeed,” said Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller in a press release about the announcement.

The office will offer basic career services as well as individualized programs. It will continue to support an existing Employment Advancement and Retention Network program, which helps people receiving public assistance meet work requirements and identify employment and training options that can help them find a job they’re interested in, remediate barriers to employment, and gain a job that helps them achieve a better life without public assistance.

Nancy Dischinat, WBLV executive director, said she is not aware of any other American Job Center that is located on a hospital campus in Pennsylvania.

“The significance of opening this site is to provide job-seeker and employer services in an integrated campus setting of healthcare, community resources, training and employment under the direction of the WBLV through braided funding from the PA Department of Human Services, the PA Department of Labor and Industry, and St. Luke’s University Health Network,” she said.

Ellen Denizard, St. Luke’s Community Health liaison manager for Allentown said she sees great benefit to this initiative because it provides an excellent opportunity for St. Luke’s to refer their patients to CareerLink.

Frank Ford, president of St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus agreed.

“If we are treating people for basic healthcare and we learn that they are unemployed through conversations with the provider, we can make referrals to CareerLink,” Ford said. “Furthermore, the St. Luke’s network might present an employment opportunity for those referrals.”

Denizard said that St. Luke’s Sacred Heart often works with patients who are under-insured or uninsured, which may be from a lack of employment or from a lack of living-wage employment.

Since the office opened at Sacred Heart June 30 through Sept. 30 it assisted 255 individuals, conducted 196 workshops and developed 64 individualized employability plans.

In addition, it facilitated 30 job interviews and reported 20 job starts with wages that average $12.13 per hour.

The site was made possible through a grant awarded to seven EARN employment and training programs across the state to address barriers identified through feedback from past program participants and staff.